GNF - Trip Field 2019

Fans of Hannover 96 in South Africa


A report by Stefan Hörmann, Project Manager

Great tension in the Gumbi community in South Africa. Hannover 96 from Germany had in fact announced himself as opponent of two local football teams to play a friendly match. After the initial misunderstanding, things were clarified. Not the professional Bundesliga team, but rather a group of football fans from Hanover reached the north-east of South Africa in July 2019. Even though a football match was on the agenda, the actual reason for the trip was the campaign "Drinking Cups for Drinking Water": since 2009, fans of the IG Roten Kurve at every home match of the Bundesliga team have been collecting stadium cups for a good cause. The stadium visitors waive the cup deposit of one euro and with this donation, the fans support drinking water projects of the Global Nature Fund in Africa, one of them in the three villages Zonyam, Cotland and Hlambanyati of the Gumbi community in South Africa. Many years of drought and land overuse had led to wells drying up and the approximately 5,000 inhabitants depended on water being delivered by tankers. However, these came only irregularly, and the precious water often had to be rationed.


On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the extremely successful initiative, nine fans visited the event to get an idea of the impact their voluntary commitment has had. Accompanied by Stefan Hörmann, project manager at GNF from the very beginning of the common campaign, the guests from Hanover first met Wildlands, the local partner of GNF. After a detailed analysis of the social and hydrological conditions in mid-2018, Wildlands began to build a widely ramified reservoir and pipeline system. This will distribute water from the nearby Mkuzi River and the Jozini Reservoir to the Somkhanda Nature Reserve and the three surrounding villages of the Gumbi community using mainly solar-powered pumps.


Now 50,000 liters per day are flowing through the pipes and supplying the people with drinking water, filling the drinking troughs for the cattle and irrigating small fields and vegetable gardens. To ensure that irrigation is as environmental sustainable as possible, Wildlands maintains a model farm for water-saving and organic plant breeding. The villagers can find out about the cultivation of vegetables and herbs there and obtain seedlings. Several schools are also taking part in this project and, together with teachers and pupils, are creating gardens that will also serve as teaching areas for an healthy nutrition.


"You can't imagine the difference you make with your help," said Andrew Venter, Managing Director of the South African nature conservation and development organisation Wildlands, when he talks about the support of Hannover 96 and its fans. "Thanks to you we were able to create a classic win-win situation – there is enough water for people and nature.”


The highlight of the meeting with the villagers was – how could it be otherwise – a joint football tournament with two local teams and a team that included the fans of Hannover 96 and employees of GNF and Wildlands. Despite the superiority of their game, the local teams held back from scoring goals. At the end of a tournament, only winners were on the pitch with lots of fun. At the end, every local player and spectator received an original jersey from the Hannover 96 professional team.

 Stefan Hörmann. Project Manager
 The sucessful campaign "Drinking Cups for Drinking Water" supports our water projects in Africa for ten years.
 Radiant faces after the soccer games.
 Visit to the model farm for water-saving, organic plant breeding.
 The newly built water reservoir in Nyathi.
 The new water supply also benefits the livestock.
 Sparkling water for the daily needs.

Somkhanda Game Reserve


The owner of the "Somkhanda" game reserve is the Gumbi ethnic community, who received the land back after the end of apartheid. It is home to the "Big Five" (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard and rhino) on 12,000 hectares of bushland – the ideal place to experience authentic wilderness far away from mass tourism like in the Kruger National Park.


Funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Global Nature Fund and Wildlands support the Gumbi in developing sustainable tourism. With almost 100 jobs, the reserve is the largest employer for the local population in the rural region on the border with Eswantine (formerly Swaziland). Drinking water is scarce in the region. The water supply in the reserve and the surrounding communities has been sustainably improved with financial help from Hannover 96 and its fans.


 Rhinos in the Somkhanda Game Reserve.
 Guest lodges in the middle of the Somkhanda Game Reserve.